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What Are Orbs in Metaphysics?

My interests lie primarily in metaphysics and the paranormal, owing to a lifetime of strange experiences.

So, You've Captured an Orb

Orbs are a photographic phenomenon that has caused heated debate in many paranormal circles. These are little balls that appear in pictures or in videos, most often where there had been nothing visible to the naked eye. Their colors can range across the spectrum, but they always appear to give off some degree of light. Skeptics say they’re nothing more than dust, insects, or camera malfunctions, while believers say they’re something else entirely.

For now, let’s put our skeptical side on hold for a little while and discuss the more metaphysical possibilities.

Orbs in Clearwell Caves. These caves are known for this type of phenomena, in addition to the phantom sounds of metal hitting metal further within them. These orbs may represent spirits of miners who had perished while digging for iron ore

Orbs in Clearwell Caves. These caves are known for this type of phenomena, in addition to the phantom sounds of metal hitting metal further within them. These orbs may represent spirits of miners who had perished while digging for iron ore


The prevailing opinion is that orbs are photographic evidence of ghosts or spirits. One theory is orbs are the first manifestation of the spirit as it attempts to form itself into an apparition.

Sometimes, people believe they can see human faces in the orbs themselves, and often, these images appear in pictures in places where there has been paranormal activity. Other times, they appear in conjunction with other events like objects moving, footsteps, tapping, or auditory communication between the living and dead.


Another common theory is that orbs are indications of the presence of angels. Light of an unexplained nature is often believed to be sent by divinity. There may be a connection to the auras around angels in old art pieces. In many renditions, those beings were drawn or painted with an orb-like shape around their heads. The shape itself, the circle, has been long thought to represent eternity, perfection, and God.

Many people get a sense of security and love when they see these images, especially if the image happens to be hovering over or by themselves in the image or someone they care about. When an orb is seen over or by someone, it’s often said that it’s that individual’s guardian angel keeping guard over them.

An artistic rendition of a fairy emitting her own light

An artistic rendition of a fairy emitting her own light


A third possibility is that they are fairy beings. Some orbs appear to have wings, which backs this theory. In modern and old mythology, it is sometimes said that fairies emit their own light, especially when playing or doing magic. Many orbs purported to be of the fairy variety show up in natural settings like forests or gardens. It’s also said that these little beings are highly interactive with the photographers and have a mischievous streak to them.

Some traditions state that if one saw flashes of light in the woods, they saw a fairy of some sort. Although the fairies we're familiar with are benign or friendly, some were said to lure their victims into a bog to drown them. These fabled lights may be part of why some people believe orbs in photography are fairies as well.

There is also an interesting natural phenomenon called “Fairy Circles” or “Fairy Rings”. This is when mushrooms naturally grow in an almost perfect circle on their own. It’s believed that these rings are gateways into the elfin realm or caused by fairies dancing the night away. The overall shape may relate to why orbs are often thought to be these diminutive beings.

Electromagnetic Photo Artifacts

It's a well-known fact that electronic and magnetic interference can have an effect on photography, both digital and film. This can take many different forms, and the orb could be one of them.

Some scientists and members of various spiritual traditions believe in the existence of what are called ley lines. These lines are invisible patterns of energy crossing the Earth's surface. It's said that these lines can be measured, and some people can sense their effects.

It's said that ancient structures, like the pyramids in South America and Egypt, were built where these lines crossed. These magnificent buildings then served as the setting for various rituals intended to honor the Gods, raise energy, or for other purposes.

Incidentally, photographs taken in these locations tend to have more orbs in them. This is thought to happen because although our eyes only register a small part of the electromagnetic spectrum, cameras may be just sensitive enough to capture these tiny bursts of energy.

It also seems that these orbs are more likely to appear during certain times of day, hinting at the idea of varying levels of energy according to natural factors. This would make sense because many of the monuments are oriented to line up with natural events like equinoxes, solstices, and the passage of various stars overhead.

When these events happen, the flow of energy may shift just enough to trigger a spike in energetic flow in some places and a drain in others.

Orbs drawn by the group of people who were having a great time

Orbs drawn by the group of people who were having a great time

Psychic Manifestations

It’s also speculated that orbs are either light beings from another dimension or simply our psychic manifestation. This theory stems from the fact that many of the photos the orbs show up in were taken of people enjoying themselves or at some sort of musical event. This works on the law of attraction, which states that when positive energy is being put out, positive energy is drawn in. That which was drawn in is the orb.

These images often show up at the sites of crop circles or altars. Sometimes, orbs will obey the request of the photographer to vacate briefly so they can take a clear control picture. When this happens, there will usually be a series of pictures with orbs in them, a single picture without, and then more pictures with orbs in them. This particular experience could disprove any sort of physical phenomenon.

A human ovum still within the ovary

A human ovum still within the ovary

Something that struck me as particularly interesting about this subject was how similar many orbs looked to the ovum or egg cell. In some ways, this could insinuate that the orbs truly are a symbol of infinity. If they are beings like ghosts, it would be a poignant reminder that death is truly a part of life. At the very least, this similarity is a unique reminder of the unity of the world we live in.

When it comes right down to it, however, the origin of orbs comes down to a question of belief. Ideas can be shared, but each of us needs to discover the truth which best fits us.

© 2012 Emilie S Peck


Emilie S Peck (author) from Minneapolis, MN on September 23, 2012:

To be honest, I do usually put it off to dust or something like that, but when the air was clear, and if there was something else unexplained going on at the time, makes sense that it could at least be something else entirely. It's always good to keep an open mind. :)

Claudia Porter on September 23, 2012:

Very interesting hub! Put a whole different perspective on some of my photos. The cynic in me always thinks it's dust on the camera lens, but after reading this....well maybe not.

Emilie S Peck (author) from Minneapolis, MN on September 22, 2012:

Thanks, Curt. Ev hasn't had the chance to get me the stuff you're relaying to me yet, but I'm looking forward to seeing what you captured.

Curt Hansen on September 22, 2012:

Nice article. Come visit me after dark and I will show you a place where you can fill your camera with orbs and faeries. You will be amazed by the things you will capture on your camera. Most of the orb photos I sent you were taken there. Having a guide makes it easier. Call me...

Emilie S Peck (author) from Minneapolis, MN on September 21, 2012:

As always, thank you! Rest assured, I'll be writing more on topics like this.

I had tried to get a few pictures of my own, but alas, the orbs just weren't in a cooperative mood. ;)

Deborah from Las Vegas on September 21, 2012:

Great photos and an interesting hub ESP! I really love this topic and I continue to be fascinated with the subject. Well done! Very informative and the photos are wonderful! Rock on! Voted up!